DEAR ABBY: I turned 21 on the 11th of last month, and my friends wanted me to celebrate with "21 shots" of liquor. But after reading your columns about the 21 deadly birthday shots, I told them it was one tradition I wouldn't be trying.
Thank you for addressing this issue and printing the letters from the parents. I decided that my life is more important than impressing my friends. Your article was a sign from God to me. My thanks also to all the concerned parents who wrote to you. -- TARA IN CLINTON, MISS.
DEAR TARA: I'm pleased beyond words that the column helped you to make that wise decision. Too many young adults cave in to peer pressure and put their lives at risk when a "shot" of common sense would prevent it. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: The other night, my 19-year-old daughter, "Erin," told me about a "game" some teens are playing for kicks. She didn't seem to realize it could get her killed.
Abby, Erin jumped on the hood of a friend's truck and he took off as fast as he could. He was unaware that she didn't have her grip. When he slammed on the brakes, she went flying and landed on her back. She hit her head, scraped her back, backside and elbows, then hit her head again. She got up and nearly fainted, but no one bothered to call an ambulance or take her to the hospital.
Talking with people, I'm hearing that this game is not uncommon. I'm still shaken about how close I came to losing my daughter. Please, Abby, warn kids that these games are life-threatening, that burying a child or caring for one who is brain-damaged for life IS a big deal. -- STUNNED MOTHER, ESCONDIDO, CALIF.
DEAR MOTHER: I'm spreading the word in the hope that it will cause some of the risk-takers to wake up and realize that no one is invincible. However, strongly as I might stress that message, the following letter that arrived in the same batch as yours may be even more compelling. My advice to you is to do whatever you must to get your daughter away from the immature and irresponsible crowd she's hanging around with. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Last weekend, a 16-year-old young man was killed when he fell off a moving car while "body-surfing" on the roof of the vehicle. The police think the teenager had been lying on the roof of the car when he fell and struck his head on the pavement and a guard rail. The driver told police that his friend had seen "car-surfing" on an MTV show called "Jackass."
What a senseless waste of a life! That boy had his whole lifetime ahead of him. People should be educated in the laws of physics. If they were, perhaps a tragedy such as this one could have been averted. -- STEVE IN COOKEVILLE, TENN.
DEAR STEVE: My deepest sympathy goes to that boy's family. I'm sure that when he decided to repeat a stunt he saw on television, he had no clue it would cause his own death and his family a lifetime of heartbreak.
After reading your letter, I spoke with Roberto Peccei, Ph.D., vice chancellor for research at UCLA, who kindly explained that the law of physics you mentioned is the Law of Inertia. It means that unless you are secured to a moving object (i.e., a car), you will continue moving forward at the same speed the car was going if the driver slams on the brakes! That's why it's so important that passengers wear seat belts.
I only hope that any teen who sees this and is tempted to car-surf will think again.